Thursday, August 23, 2007

The conundrum of Blog site statistics

One day I might succomb, but so far I have resisted blogging (i.e posting) about my specific site statistics (although I have a little thing that gives my alleged "total visitors" in my sidebar). They are very low anyway, but I get the odd blip.

"Top Gear North Pole special", "Simone Clarke BNP ballet dancer", "the late Fiona Jones" and "Diana - witness in the tunnel" have had people hovering my blog around like bees round a honeypot, for some strange reason. At least two of those post took me a few seconds to rattle off and I never really expected more than a handful of people to read them. It's bizarre. You spend hours labouring away at a posting that gets two readers, then you fire off a "quicky" and a throng see it.

Stephen Tall has written engagingly about this strange phenomenum, in connection with a post he made about a possible gay subtext in Harry Potter.

I have read with some curiosity when other bloggers have told their readers how many unique visitors and page views they are getting.

In fact, when you look at typical site stats in detail you begin to wonder.

Often a "zero second" hit is recorded after someone does a search on Google and the results page shows a posting from the blog in question. Despite using several hit counters, it is unclear to me whether these "visitors" actually look at the blog at all. If they did it may only have been for a very brief period.

Also, there are certain sites which allow you to sign up and then put yourself on automatic pilot so that a window on your monitor (which could be minimised so that it isn't showing) is showing the sites of the other members of the club. The more you get your window to "show" other people's sites, the more your site is "shown" on other people's windows. This makes one's site stats look fantastic! Except, when you check the details, all that is happening is that a load of people are not looking at each other's sites. The site image is coming down the wire and displaying on a window but it is not necessarily being shown on a monitor and is probably not actually seen by a human being. It's a sort of mutual non-admiration society. Or indeed, a mutual virility inflation club. I have a sordid confession to make. I took part in such an inane activity for a month or so in the first half of 2006, until I worked out how crazy it was.

I have respect for Iain Dale as a blogger. He seems to have pioneered the "I have had loads of hits" trend of blogging. That's as well as the "I have been given loads of awards by loads of right-wingers" and "I have appeared for three non-seconds on "Last week in the Tynwald" on Manx Community Television (cable)" style of blogging. This would be accounted for by the fact that he does get loads of hits, does get loads of awards and does appear in all sorts of exalted places on the media. (I have or do none of those things, so it easy for me to talk!)

Good for Mr Dale, who works very hard at it. But things were put in perspective when I was interviewed by a political journalist who works on "Daily Politics" recently. I kept on saying "Iain Dale this" and "Iain Dale that" and "Iain Dale the other". In the end the journalist said with a mixture of puzzlement and frustration in her voice: "Excuse me, just who is Iain Dale?"


  1. According to my sitemeter help:
    Why do some of my visitors have visit lengths of 0:00?
    That means the visitors are only staying to view a single page and then leaving. The only way that Site Meter knows how long someone is on a site is by the times of each page view. If they only look at a single page and then leave, we don't know how long they looked at the page. If they looked at two pages and left we would know they at least were on the site during the time of the first page view and the second page view. The difference between those two times would be the length of the visit.

    You are right. A one line tease to a picture will get more hits than half the first paragraph of a carefully written piece. I think this because have made their mind up after half a para whether they want to click through to the posting, whereas they can't do that with one line.

  2. Thank you for that clarification, Duncan